Encourage digital intelligence at work to drive success
It is increasingly becoming evident that digitisation will continue to transform workplace and create value in more ways than was imaginable in the past. These unprecedented changes demand an entirely new set of competencies that are linked to emerging patterns of work.
The first pattern that has emerged is that ‘Every professional is a digital professional’. Irrespective of one’s domain, an employee must have an expansive understanding of how digital will impact his/her area of work, work design, expectations and results. Knowledge of the impact of new technologies, new work patterns and emer- ging disruptions will be crucial. Digital intelligence is a basic survival skill that all professionals must build.
The use of new technologies such as robotics, AI devices, machine learning, and wearable technologies will dominate new work ethos. There are already more than a few examples of alliances being forged between men and machines. In banking for example, some transactional and back-end operational jobs are getting digitised, improving the man-machine interface. New age professionals will have to partner with intelligent machines on the one hand, while simultaneously collaborating with humans.
As an extension of the above, digital age professionals will have to demonstrate nimbleness, adaptability and change management as important competencies. Change management will never go out of fashion as a key survival tool. Adapting to chaotic changes driven by digital revolution will put considerable demands on people. These demands will be largely behavioural and some of the key sought-after qualities will be adaptability, flexibility and agility.
Changes in business will be dotted with frantic speed, rapid disruption and a resultant focus on the short term. Managers will increasingly face situations full of uncertain- ty, ambiguity and unexpected disruptions. There won’t be any precedents or tried-&tested solutions. To make sense of a fluid business environment, both individuals and organisations must develop the ability to perpetually experiment. Setting up small but purposeful experiments will be an important skill. Controlled experiments is possibly the only tool that will be available to us to make sense of the changing digital world.
In such a milieu, only perpetual learners will survive. Learning to learn will no longer be a mere competency but an essential life skill. A large part of learning will be self-driven and self-managed. Learning in future will come from a variety of unconventional sources such as unrelated industries, disruptions, young mentors, failed experiments, purposeful sabbaticals, disgruntled customers and even mindfulness.
Lastly, leadership skills will still enjoy organisational premium. In my opinion, the best narrative of leadership comes from a renowned historian Arnold Toynbee, who introduced the concept of “challenge and response” to explain the rise and fall of civilisations. I strongly believe that leadership is no different. How we respond to future challenges will shape our destinies.
Finally, while I am excited about the digital revolution and dazzling technological developments, I also strongly believe that AI is far from demonstrating and emulating the four human endowments — self-awareness, imagination, conscience and independent will —proposed by Stephen Covey in his bestselling book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. “These four en- dowments give us the ultimate human freedom — the power to choose, to respond and to change,” Covey reasons. These capabilities will be the biggest differentiators between men and machines. The author is group head – HR, Kotak Mahindra Bank. All views are personal